Laura Beltran finds the process of hanging wallpaper Zen-like, requiring a focus and attention to detail that quiets the mind. Piecing together the interior of the Pismo Beach home she shares with husband Stephen was just as rewarding for Laura, who has been a wall-covering and paint professional for 28 years.
“I finally got the chance to design my own house — to pick out everything from the finishes to the fabrics,” she said.
The couple bought the 1,500-square-foot, 1985-built home around 20 years ago and used it as a rental, living in a larger house in another part of Pismo Beach. When Stephen retired from Southern California Gas in 2005, they viewed the rental as an opportunity to downsize and build a home tailored to their new empty-nest lifestyle.
Laura was designer and owner-builder for the project. She had the house gutted and the floor plan revamped. A deck on the side of the house was enclosed to create a 200-square-foot combination office and dining room that is long and narrow, requiring the couple to cut down their walnut dining table lengthwise to make it fit.
Two back-to-back bathrooms were joined to create a larger master bathroom, and a guest room closet became a new guest bathroom.
The Beltrans made the most of the home’s best feature: its ocean views. They enlarged their west-facing windows and expanded their back deck.
Laura, who has helped design and create wall treatments for residences, model homes and hotels — including the Madonna Inn — selected all of the finish materials. She used subtle earth tones to keep the focus on views, creating interest with a diversity of textures and patterns. One of her first choices was diamond-shaped marble tile that was used on the kitchen backsplash, and as an accent among the porcelain countertop tile. She chose the marble because of the variegations in color, and because “no two tiles are alike.”
She selected a variety of flooring materials, each setting the mood in the room for which it was chosen. Honed slate in shades of gray, green and blue brings warmth and elegance to the entryway and guest bathroom. The main living room area is hand-textured wood because it is easy to maintain and gives the room a “richness,” according to Laura. The kitchen floors are clad in porcelain tile, the master bathroom flooring is travertine, and the bedrooms have comfortable carpet underfoot.
Wall treatments were an opportunity for Laura to apply her creativity and expertise. The master bedroom walls are covered in a bamboo-green grasscloth, creating a warm, textural foundation for the space. In a guest bathroom, Laura used ocean-blue wallpaper that is subtly textured to resemble tissue paper. A metallic strié treatment on the ceiling entices the eye to travel upward.
To create interest on a staircase wall that bridges the foyer and living room, Laura hired a mural artist to create a tone-on-tone landscape inspired by their view of oak trees and shoreline.
“If the mural were different colors, it would distract the eye, so this is almost like a shadow. You notice it, but it doesn’t jump out at you,” she said.
Wall colors are mostly subtle and light, to give a feeling of added space to the modestly-sized house. Laura likes to pull her colors from a favorite piece in the room. For instance, in the living room, she started with an area rug from Pakistan. In it, she found the soft green for the walls, the burnt orange of the sofa, as well as the turquoise accent color painted on the kitchen bar.
Laura saves bright colors for accents and art. The Beltrans are members of the San Luis Obispo Cactus and Succulent Society and have accumulated numerous pieces of vibrantly painted pottery to contain their collection of specimens. They have also gradually replaced generic switchplates and outlet covers with decorative ones that offer small hits of color.
“They reflect the vibe I feel for the room,” she said.
The couple lived off-site while the remodel took place, and moved into the house in May 2005. Laura calls it her “Zen house,” and their own livable masterpiece.
“It does have special meaning,” she said. “This is the home we created from our vision of all the things we love.”
You can reach Laura Beltran at 489-3438.